Dear Diary

December 7, 2011

Hear ye, hear ye! Please welcome new diarist RUBY! Also: Katherine farts.


Hi. My name is Ruby, and I am writing this diary from study hall. I’m an eighth-grader in Rhode Island—which is both my hometown, where I lived till I was nine, and entirely new to me. Because of my dad’s job, I’ve spent the past five years living in China.

In some ways I like the change: the pollution here is nonexistent compared with China’s, and I’m in love with the clear blue sky. But in some ways it’s hard: I sometimes feel like I can’t connect with anyone here. Most of the girls at my new school wear Abercrombie and Fitch (my Chinese schools had kids from every country, so there wasn’t a prevalent “style”), talk about Jersey Shore (the only American show the kids in China watched was How I Met Your Mother), and generally don’t get any of my interests. These include writing (no, I’m just writing for Rookie because I hate it so much and I’m really a masochist), sewing terribly, playing ukulele and double bass, blogging, and theater.

Last year, at my old school in Shekou, I somehow got the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. It’s a play with lots of hidden themes and messages (aside from the spooky Pink Floyd business), but one line stuck with me: There’s no place like home. I said it three times. Where is this place called home?

I’ve lived in more houses and apartments and attended more schools than I care to count. In China we lived in three cities—Hong Kong, Suzhou, and Shekou—as my restless parents moved us around the country to try to ease my father’s traveling schedule and put me and my siblings in decent schools. Occasionally, while I was on a plane going from one “home” to the next, I envied regular American kids, with their lifelong best friends and cozy houses on tree-lined streets. Learning to navigate Chinese traffic, Frogger-like, on the walk home from school; shopping in crowded, wet markets; and having only my immediate family to rely on—I knew my life was different from those of my friends I’d left behind in the U.S. I never noticed when someone wasn’t speaking my language, because for so many years I was the foreigner. I always expected to be the stranger, the outsider. I was in someone else’s home, feeling even more out of place when people would ask me, “Can I take a picture of you?”

On the plane to the USA this past summer, it suddenly struck me that this time it wasn’t just for a visit. Where am I supposed to fit in? I’m a stranger here, too. I realize how little I know about tree-lined streets and moderate traffic. And I don’t know how to act. Am I supposed to ask for photos of foreign people in slow English? And will someone please explain who Kim Kardashian is?

Days and nights are upside down and I grope for my place in the dark. I have secrets, stories, and news to tell, but nobody wants to listen. Where’s your best friend, Rodney, when you need him? Oh, yeah. On the other side of the planet.

Maybe I don’t have a home quite yet. Maybe a home is lots of things combined, like shelves crammed with trinkets and enough time to have memories. Maybe I don’t need this concluding paragraph because there’s no conclusion yet. ♦


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  • Naomi December 7th, 2011 7:04 PM


  • moonchild December 7th, 2011 7:14 PM


    (aha AVPM reference *wink wink*)

    I like to sew too! And I absolutely know what you mean about no one understanding your intrests… :l

    Oh and I’ve been living in the US all my life, and I still don’t know how to act (OR WHO KIM KARDASHION IS FOR THAT MATTER!)

    This is really nice. Tanks for writing!


    • moonchild December 7th, 2011 7:15 PM

      *Thanks not tanks! haha

  • Whatsername December 7th, 2011 9:48 PM

    Ruby seems like a very interesting person, I’m glad she’s joining the weekly diary. C: Can’t wait til next week!

  • Chimdi December 7th, 2011 10:09 PM

    I just finished reading Crime and Punishment…crazy stuff!!!

  • Pia December 7th, 2011 10:25 PM

    Katherine: I was always a great student. I wasn’t the valedictorian or anything, but I was someone that people recognized as smart. I loved school and class, and craved good teachers and inspiring literature. Senior year is bunk. The silly logistics of high school started to get to me and I spent more time smoking cigarettes in my car in the parking lot, asleep, or at my boyfriend’s house than I did in class. Hold out, learning has to get worse to get better. I went to a hyper academic college after my senior year and completely rose to the occasion even though my brain had completely atrophied in the the 12th grade. Hang in there. <3

  • kem247 December 7th, 2011 11:02 PM

    Oh Dylan, I want to be at a place where you are at now but I am too shy. :(

  • Nomi December 7th, 2011 11:15 PM

    yayyyy finally someone who isn’t like three years older than me! love dylan katherine and naomi, but even though ruby’s life sounds totally different from mine, i feel like ill be able to relate to her more because shes closer to my age

  • youarebananas December 7th, 2011 11:31 PM

    katherine, ME TOO. senioritis? for the first two years of high school, i was terrified of what would happen if i didn’t finish my homework. now i can’t imagine completing even half of it, but i’ve mastered the skill of winning over my teachers enough so that they think i’m invested yet ridiculously busy, not just a slacker. i am disappointed in myself, but not enough to work any harder. worst feeling.

  • Dylan December 7th, 2011 11:54 PM

    Katherine YEP, happened to me too. Ah man. Back in the day, when I used to be good at school…sigh…(this is some of my finals angst coming out)

  • zomgitsmoi December 8th, 2011 3:30 AM

    OMG as an eighth grader living in beijing at the moment i can totally relate to your post ruby. i was actually going to submit something really similar to rookie, but schoolwork kept me from doing so. and i have no idea why the hell kim kardashian is so famous either :)

  • samhatt December 8th, 2011 3:54 AM

    i’m going through a similar phase katherine, i feel like i spend all my time in the library doing last-minute hw and i seem to spend all this time studying but i don’t have the grades to show for it.

  • December 8th, 2011 5:04 AM

    Katherine, I seem to be someone that needs a lot of inspiration to get myself going. Like if I had some difficult and or boring homework to do, then I would imagine that I was a very studious, intellectual type of person, and then attack it ferociously! And it actually seemed to work :-) It sounds like you’re already pretty smart, so maybe you don;t need to do exactly what I did, but maybe there’s someone that you really admire that you could take inspiration from? :-)

  • Alcohols December 8th, 2011 6:46 AM

    Dylan, I have the same problem now! I started at uni two months ago and I thought how its gonna change my life completely (because I will be living without parents in a different country) and how Im gonna be a totally different person. Well, Im still not living a life that a would describe as an ideal, but Im slowly approaching it. Most importantly, thinking that uni will change into someone else is the worst misconception ever. Actually, Ive stayed myself and I am able to express myself more freely which I couldnt / was afraid to do before. If this doesnt make sense, sorry, Ive been up all night writing my last essay of the term :) Anyway, wonderful diaries! It feels so good to know that there people on this planet who deal with same problems as I do. Thanks!

  • Ruby B. December 8th, 2011 8:11 AM

    Thanks for the welcome, everyone!

  • erin December 8th, 2011 10:12 AM

    I totally relate to Katherine’s situation… at my school, it’s rumored that junior year is the worst, and man am I feeling it. Last year and the year before I’d easily get A’s, and if I got a B or B+, I freaked and worked really hard to fix it. Now, I’m relieved if manage a B in some of my classes. I feel like I’m being sucked into a black hole… I really hope it gets better next year.

  • OrangeSunrise December 8th, 2011 4:30 PM

    Yay! Welcome to our crew, Ruby :) I am so glad someone closer to my age is joining, I mean I love the other diaries but it’s nice to have someone at around the same stage in their life as you are in yours. If that made sense…*sigh*

    Katherine, my mind has gotten all mumbled lately, strange sleep patterns and increasing stress, and as a result, school has fallen waaaay down. I am majorly disappointing my parents at the moment, and I am constantly in trouble or stressed. So annoying, and I just don’t know what to do!

  • dogsrule December 8th, 2011 8:34 PM

    oh man i totally became this person ever since i worked really hard in 6th grade and got amazing grades, but wasn’t put in honors classes for 7th grade. i’m currently behind in mountains of work (blaming it on senioritis while it’s not even 3rd quarter yet). also this week is our school’s production of bye bye birdie and i’m convinced tech will burst into flames without me.

  • koolkat December 10th, 2011 7:03 PM

    I lived in Singapore for 3 and a half years, and for a while after moving back to the UK, people would regard me as a foreigner and ask how I could speak English and stuff (???), despite my having lived in England for years before! I know how you feel, Ruby!

  • anya December 15th, 2011 6:57 PM

    Hi Katherine–
    My name is Anya, and I made an account just so I could write this to you! Here’s what I say: TAKE A GAP YEAR! Maybe a year off — with NO school! — would help you with the break-up/rekindle the flame/other semi-related metaphor. I finished high school last year, and will go to college next year, buuuuuuut I am currently on a gap year studying and traveling around Europe! I can’t even describe how glad I am to have made this feels-really-big-and-scary decision. Anyway, those are my two cents — good luck with the rest of senior year, and pleeeeeeeease lets talk if you have questions or something.
    Yay rookie,

  • Narita December 17th, 2011 3:45 AM

    I can relate to this… I’m currently at my 14th school because of moving around, bullying, more moving around and more bullying, kinda. I’ve moved a lot, probably as much as possible in the little country of The Netherlands. And even though it all seems the same – like, it’s all the same country – every place had that little different thingy. I lived on an island until I was eight and not that much foreigners come here, except for vacation, but most people who live here are living here for generations. I don’t and I’ve been away from my 8th until my 11th, and when I came back I didn’t feel home here anymore. Most people thing you’re kinda like a second class when you’re not born here and you get bonus misfit points in case you’re not wearing adidas and bjorn borg. (Yeah, we’re really that much behind) Which resulted in me getting locked up in the guys’ toilets and being beaten up… in class. And since that, less than a year ago, I already switched schools 2 more times and I guess I’ll always remain the ‘new kid’. Can’t we just abolish that phrase?